Thursday, April 30, 2020

Life in the Time of Corona

So, what a season, isn’t it? We’ve been in lockdown for seven weeks now in London, with no end-date in sight, and people keep saying that this is our new normal. 

Covid-19 is an interesting challenge for a missionary. Our very life description, our life work, is to go out and reach people. But the government has banned that first bit, “going out.” Still, we quickly realised (perhaps from the jump in our own screen time) that reaching people via the internet was easier than ever. We went from moaning over constant phone use to championing it - it’s the first time in my life that I regularly go to bed with a flat battery. And let me tell you, that’s not from Netflix watching. 

Our team has wondered for a while what it would be like to make some of our activities more virtual. We’ve been looking into how to use media to send not only our preachings into people’s living rooms and smart phones, but also how to move training teachings that way, or how to incorporate technology into the way that we respond in various teachings and meetings. It’s the language of the generation that is coming up, so we knew that we needed to learn it. And now, it seems, is God’s time for us to do so!

If you follow any of our social media, you know that we’ve been far from quiet in this time. Our base is already structured in such a way that each ministry has its own online presence, and we’ve been reaching out to the people who follow us very intentionally. We have fitness videos available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, led by our very own fitness instructor, Larissa (Check them out here:  )

We also have church on Sundays and kids’ programmes that premiere twice a week, as well as occasional cooking tutorials with our team chef, all available on our church Youtube and Facebook:

And each ministry is reaching out in their own way. I’ve been working with theatre ministry, and we’ve made a series of tutorials on monologues so that actors can brush up on their skills in this time. It also opens us up to coaching acting via Zoom. If you want to see me in action, go ahead and look here:

What is truly amazing to me is the way that people in London are keen to help out however they can. Our food banks and other charities are literally turning away volunteers at the minute. As a team, we are helping our local Camden food bank to deliver excess food to people on estates around Camden. We have to be very careful as we do this, because our city is still on tight lockdown, and because we still have Covid-19 in our midst. But at the same time, it is a relief to finally be at the point where we can be physically present in the lives of our community again. 

We’ve been handing out flyers that share our Hope & Anchor information on our daily government-allowed walks, and a few days ago, I got to meet the across-the-street neighbours that I’ve been seeing from afar ever since moving here. It turns out that they go to the local Anglican Church and help to run the youth ministry, and once lockdown is lifted, we’re going to discuss partnering together. Our next-door neighbour is the pastor of a church that’s a bit further away, and they blast worship music throughout the day that keeps us grooving as we work. They even played a sermon at top volume last week, so I can confirm that our whole block knows who Jesus is!

It’s been so encouraging to realise that there are more Christians than we thought around. Hackney, our neighbourhood, has been written about in magazines as a place where witchcraft is growing, and whilst that is definitely true (hey, missionaries should be living in dark places, right?), there are also people fighting for our neighbourhood alongside us. 

And also, people have become so open to Christianity. I’ve downloaded an app that allows me to interact with people who live locally, and through it, I’ve been able to message back and forth with a local woman who doesn’t believe in God, but who is isolating alone and allows me to pray for her. There are others who protest that they aren’t Christian, but they still react to our posts offering prayer with their prayer requests. It’s amazing to watch the Holy Spirit move during corona, the very moment our movement is limited. It’s obvious, but it just reinforces to me that God is not limited by our limitations. He uses our limitations to show His presence so much more clearly. 

So anyway, what a weird season, but one that God’s prepared us for, and one in which He is still moving. Please do check out these different videos - they aren’t just for Londoners, and if they brighten your days of lockdown, or if they help you breathe deeply and trust a bit harder, then praise Jesus! This lockdown certainly isn’t going to waste!

Also, as a post-script, the DTS that was meant to begin in March has been postponed until May, which means we’re in a bit of a tricky financial situation as a base, since our rents on houses are still due in this time. Please pray for us as we deal with this unprecedented situation. God is a God of miracles, hey! And also please pray that we’ll keep following God into this strange new world or learning to reach out to people using the technology that we took for granted and often still don’t know how to use. But mates, won’t He do it!